Spartans hold on to beat Warriors

Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake halts late two-point in 28-27 win over Averill Park
Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake’s Jake Stanko rushes against Averill Park Friday.
Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake’s Jake Stanko rushes against Averill Park Friday.

BURNT HILLS – Zachary Gray wasn’t sure who made the initial hit, and the Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake senior lineman really didn’t care.

His only concern was that the Spartans made the stop on Averill Park’s late two-point bid, and held on for the 28-27 victory Friday night in a rematch from last year’s Section II Class A Super Bowl.

“There were probably three or four of us in there,” said Gray, who plays center and defensive tackle for the state’s No. 5 team. “We were all just trying to push as hard as we could.”

Dom Law ran 18 yards for an Averill Park touchdown with 2:36 left, but was denied on a two-point run afterward. Jake Stanko grabbed the ball when the Warriors tried an onside kick, and the Spartans emerged as the lone unbeaten Class A team remaining in the area.

“It was one of those games,” Burnt Hills coach Matt Shell said. “We made some plays. Both teams made plays. That was two real good football teams going at it.”

Vincent Daviero ran for two touchdowns for Burnt Hills (4-0, 4-0), and Stanko ran for another to break a 21-21 third-quarter tie. Darien LaPietro threw a touchdown pass to Mike LeVan, and Jonathan Kenyon made good on all four of his extra point attempts in an effort that proved ultra important.

“The kicking game was huge,” Shell said. “We made all of our extra points.”

With the game in the balance, Averill Park opted to try for two rather than call on Jared Glasser, who had missed an extra point and made one earlier. Law had run for a two-pointer after Averill Park’s first touchdown, but came up a yard short the final time he ran the ball.

“I thought we’d get it,” Averill Park coach Zach Gobel said of going for two. “We were running the ball well. I’d rather put the pressure on them.”

Averill Park (2-1, 3-1) drove 78 yards on 12 running plays, the last Law’s 18-yard scoring dash up the middle, to get within 28-27.

“They’re pretty aggressive,” Gray, a senior, said of Averill Park’s gamble. “They wanted it. I’m not surprised.”

Law ran 18 times for 109 yards, and went 1 yard for the Warriors’ initial touchdown, which the Spartans quickly answered.

“That fullback [Law] is an outstanding runner,” Shell said. “I don’t think we tackled him for a loss tonight. We didn’t on that [two-point] play, but we rallied to the football and made a play.”

Gray, Jake Russell and Grant Schaffer were among the Spartans who emerged from the pile after Law was stopped short of the end zone.

“They [Averill Park] were really good,” Daviero said after a 14-carry, 156-yard rushing performance. “They came off the ball well, but I know my guys out there. I knew they could get it done.”

The game was tied at 14 at the half and at 21 in the third quarter before Stanko scored on a 1-yard surge just after Daviero broke off a 55-yard run.

Both teams scored earlier in the third frame — the Spartans on a 31-yard run by Daviero and the Warriors on a 64-yard scamper by James Finelli.

“We got together as a team in the locker room,” Gray said. “We didn’t panic. We didn’t get all worried. We figured out what we needed to do and stepped up.”

Stanko ran 20 times for 125 yards and LeVan picked off a pass as part of the Spartans second win over the Warriors since last year’s 19-16 Week 4 loss. Burnt Hills beat Averill Park in the 2016 Super Bowl 24-6 on the way to the state semifinals.

“If we want to be in a position to maybe play for a championship, we’ve got to clean up some things,” Shell said.

Averill Park tied the game at 14 late in the third quarter on Nick Ferlito’s 35-yard touchdown pass to Austin Quell, with that score coming one play after Joe Milanese picked off LaPietro.

LaPietro threw a 29-yard touchdown pass to LeVan early in the second quarter. In the first quarter, Daviero capped BH-BL’s opening drive with a 3-yard touchdown run.

“I’m real proud of my kids,” Gobel said. “They never gave up. They executed the stuff we worked on all week.”

That is, until the very end.

Averill Park 8 6 7 6 – 27
Burnt Hills 7 7 14 0 – 28

AP – Law 1 run (Law run)
BH – Daviero 3 run (Kenyon kick)
BH – LeVan 29 pass from LaPietro (Kenyon kick)
AP – Quell 35 pass from Ferlito (kick failed)
BH – Daviero 31 run (Kenyon kick)
AP – Finelli 64 run (Glasser kick)
BH – Stanko 1 run (Kenyon kick)
AP – Law 18 run (run failed)

Reach Gazette Sportswriter Jim Schiltz at 518-395-3143, [email protected] or @jim_schiltz on Twitter.

Categories: High School Sports, Sports

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